Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Ramblings

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Rantings
Re: "The Search for Alpha Trion"
10/26/00

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting
re: "The Search For Alpha Trion"
10/26/00

It's Cartoon Viewing Club time again! Hooray! I forget who came up with this idea originally -- Scylla? Whatever the case, it was a great idea! It's really cool to see a dozen or more reactions to the same episode, freshly viewed so you don't get responses along the lines of "I seem to remember that Shockwave said he was losing power in this ep, but then Bruticus shot him into space, but I haven't seen the episode in 10 years so I might have it a bit mixed up." :] I tend to think of my reviews as fairly all-inclusive... yet I've yet to read a single review that didn't cover at least a few points that I hadn't even considered, and most have *many* such points.

This time we're shredding -- errr, *reviewing* -- an episode that I don't especially care much for and don't remember all that well, featuring three or four characters whose identities are a bit confused for me. But that's okay! If it weren't for CVC, I'd end up reviewing only my personal favorite episodes. We'll look close and try to see if there's anything in there among all the fluff...

Female:

In Decepticon Headquarters on Cybertron, a laser beam cuts an opening through a wall. "Good shot, Firestar," says a medium blue Autobot, one of three, as the wall falls in and they charge into room. "No sign of Shockwave..."says Firestar, the red one. "Then let's grab the energon cubes and split! C'mon!" says a pale-blue one. "Cool your carberators, Moonracer," says medium blue. "Chromia to Elita One." A solomn female voice replies; Chromia reports as Moonracer and Firestar scan the walls. "We're inside Decepticon Headquarters and ready to begin the operation as soon as we locate Shockwave's supply room. And it looks like Firestar just did that." Chromia blasts open a wall, revealing a console which activates a hidden elevator.

The 'bots exit to a room with two big stacks of energon cubes; they load them into Firestar's transport mode. "We'll only take this stack," Chromia says. "With our energon supply so dangerously low? We're talking survival!" Moonracer objects. "Sorry, Moonracer. Elita's orders. Okay, Firestar, roll out!" But as they head for the exit, Moonracer goes back for more cubes, and triggers a light sensor. Instantly a clear cube materializes around her, trapping her. "Chromia, get me out of here! Get me out!" Chromia's blasts are ineffective, however, bouncing off the cube. "Firestar! I told you to roll out! I'll take care of this." "But--" "Hurry! Before Shockwave returns! We'll catch up with you... if we can." Firestar heads out.

Above, Shockwave enters the control center and (apparently upon seeing the big hole in the wall, though it's not explicitly shown) rushes to his console, calling up an image of the two 'bots below. "Female Autobots... I thought they were extinct!" Firestar rushes by just then; Shockers squeezes off a few shots but only manages to blow up a few energon cubes. "Your companions won't be as lucky," Shockwave says to himself, heading below.

"So the female Autobots still exist!" he says, stepping off the elevator. Chromia is unphased: "Yes, we exist. And we always will." "Such noble nonsense." Shockwave fires; Chromia side-steps and the shot blows open the cube, freeing Moonracer. Moonracer throws a couple of cubes at Shockwave, which blow up in his face; the two Autobots take the elevator out, transform and drive off.

"Well, at least I still have the energon cubes," Firestar says as the trio drives away. Moonracer: "Oh, it's all my fault. If I hadn't --" Chromia: "No time to worry about it now; Shockwave may be following us!" Sure enough, one of Shockwave's sentinel drones is flying behind them. "Hunt them down, Sentinel. And report their destination to me," Shockwave orders the robot.

Chromia orders Moonracer to transform. "Chromia to Elita One! Request authorization to proceed to headquarters." "Request denied! You've got company." Moonracer spots the Sentinel and destroys it with a single blast. "They will pay!" Shockwave snarls. "Megatron! Acknowledge!" "What is it, Shockwave?" Megs says, appearing on the monitor. "Three female Autobots broke into headquarters, attempting to steal energon cubes. They managed to --" "*Female* Autobots? Excellent, Shockwave! You have captured them, I presume." "They escaped. But now I know the approximate location of --" "Find them! And capture Elita One!... I'll send a team of Decepticons to assist you. Megatron out!" "Home sweet home!" says one of the trio, transforming. "Nothing like it. Let's unload the energon." Chromia activates a remote control, and a pile of debris slides aside to reveal a secret entrance. A beam levitates the energon downwards; when Firestar's cargo bay is empty, the Autobots follow. The beam takes them to a subterrainian base, where three other females are. A pink one, Elita One, speaks: "Welcome back Autobots. Congratulations on a mission well done." "We came close to getting vaporized; it was all my fault, Elita" Moonracer spills out. "You survived; therefore you did not fail." Chromia: "But we were followed by one of Shockwave's sentinels. Our base may have been discovered." Elita: "I will contact Alpha Trion. He will know what to do."

Shockwave tunes his sensors on the area where the still-smoldering Sentinel was destroyed, and locates the Autobots' base. The Decepticons arrive shortly thereafter: Starscream, Rumble, Ramjet, and Astrotrain. "I have the coordinates," Shockers reports. "Excellent. Then we shall procede immediately," Starscream says.

"Come in, Alpha Trion. This is Elita One." The face of a bearded Autobot appears in a holoprojector. "Greetings, Elita One." "I fear the Decepticons may have discovered our secret base." "Oh? Then you must relocate at once. Investigate the area alone. Perhaps that way the Decepticons won't spot you. But -- be careful!" "I can deal with Decepticons. Elita One knows no fear." "Elita -- I must warn you again. Do not use your special power, under any circumstances! Do you understand?" "Yes, Alpha Trion. I understand."

Elita exits the base, then ducks under cover upon hearing Starscream's voice: "Remember why we're here: to capture Elita One, at all costs. Now, where's the entrance?" "Maybe Shockwave made a mistake in his calculations!" Ramjet says. "Negative! The female Autobots are obviously quite clever. But they will not outsmart me! Rumble -- activate your pile driver arms and shake the hens out of their nest." "Megatron's orders were to find the female Autobots and capture Elita One -- not to tear up the whole planet!" Rumble protests. "When Megatron is not with us, I am in charge. And I order you to obey me!" Rumble pounds the surface; below ground, the Autobots' headquarters begins to collapse.

Elita ducks out of cover and fires on the 'cons. Rumble pauses; Starscream orders him to "Keep at it, Rumble!" Elita blasts Astrotrain; dodges a bunch of shots with fancy gymnastics; lands on top of a tower; then catches one of Ramjet's missiles and knocks him out of the sky with it. "My null ray will finish you!" Starscream says, blasting her. Elita falls, stunned; Ramjet and Astrotrain hold her. "You may cease now, Rumble! Take a last look at your headquarters, Elita One." "Not that there's anything left to see!" Rumble adds.

In the rubble below ground, the 'bots are recovering. "What happened?" Moonracer wonders. "The last thing I saw on the monitor were some Decepticons, right above our headquarters," Firestar says. "Elita One! I hope she is safe," Moonracer says. "Not much we can do about it, as long as we're trapped," Firestar says, pointing at the smashed entrance. "But we're not gonna stay trapped, right?" Chromia says.

On Earth, Optimus answers a call from Megatron: "Optimus Prime! Something rather exciting has been discovered on Cybertron! I thought you might like to know about it!" "Get to the point, Megatron." "It seems that female Autobots still exist on Cybertron!... some of them were foolish enough to break into our headquarters on Cybertron." "You're bluffing, Megatron." "I realized you would demand proof. How's this?" The screen cuts to an image of Elita One held by the 'cons. "Elita! Let her go, Megatron, or I'll --" "You'll surrender! Immediately! If you ever want to see Elita One functioning again! You have two Earth hours to make up your mind." "No!" Prime says, pounding the console as the connection closes. "Teletraan. I need you to pinpoint the Decepticon space bridge."

Later, Prime rolls out of Autobot HQ by himself. "I will save you, Elita One, even if it means sacrificing myself!" We flash back to the beginning of "More Than Meets the Eye", as the Autobot starship is about to lift off from Cybertron. Prime is about to enter the ship, when a bunch of the female Autobots come dashing in. "Optimus! Wait!" "Elita! Take cover! I will return for you as soon as we need!" "I want to go with you!" "It's too dangerous. Go back!" Missiles hit around the ship; when the smoke clears, Prime observes solomnly: "She's gone." "I will not forget my promise, Elita. I will return for you!" says present-day Prime.

In Autobot HQ, the 'bots gather around Teletraan. "Optimus Prime must be trying to get to Cybetron. But why?" Powerglide wonders. Inferno: "And why by himself?" "Well there's only one way to find out! Autobots, transform," orders Ironhide. "To the space bridge!" Powerglide, Ironhide, and Inferno roll out.

Prime arrives at the bridge: "No Decepticon guards." He cautiously enters the donut; the doors immediately slide shut, and the bridge activates.

On Cybertron, Prime steps out of the bridge elevator, and right into another of Shockwave's clear cube prisons. The 'cons step forward, with Elita still held captive. "Optimus!" she cries out, kicking her way free of Astrotrain. But Starscream blasts her again before she can fire. "This should finish you off!" Starscream says, taking aim. "Wait!" Shockwave says. "I have a better idea."

The female Autobots are sitting around, still trapped. "There must be some logical way out of here," Chromia says. "Of course! The energon cubes! We can use them to blast our way out!" Moonracer says. "But they had to have been destroyed in the earthquake," Chromia says. "I put them in here, for safe keeping!" Moonracer says, opening a storage cabinet. Later, the 'bots have the cubes stacked by the door. Chromia: "Let's hope this works." "We need more than hope," Moonracer says, firing. The entrance is blown open; the 'bots cheer and head out. Chromia: "Now, let's find Elita One, before it's too late."

On Earth, Ironhide's group observes the unguarded space bridge: "If Prime got past those guards, then so can we," Ironhide says. "Good. Cause I'm in the mood for some action!" Inferno says. The 'bots head for the donut.

"Enjoying the view, Prime?" Starscream asks of the Autobot leader, who is strung from a chain over a bubbling vat. "How fitting that the Decepticons have finally captured Optimus Prime, under *my* leadership." He dips a metal rod in the vat; it comes up half-melted away. "Please... let him go," Elita begs. "Very well, my dear. Let him go -- into the acid!" "No, don't! Take me instead!" "Don't be so anxious, Elita. You'll have your turn, right after Prime. Now, Rumble!" Rumble slices the chain with a laser sword, and Prime plummets toward the pit.

Elita shrieks, and unleashes her special power. Funky waves fill the screen, and everything freezes except for her. She pull Prime down from where he hangs in mid-air, and unfreezes him. "Wha-what happened?" he asks. Elita falls limp. "My special power... a weapon... last resort. It drains all of my... life force.... Take me to Alpha Trion. He's the only one... who can save me." "We shall find him." Prime carries her outside, where the glowing effect wears off; he transforms and loads her into his trailer.

The 'cons, returning to normal motion, observe a melted mass in their acid pit. "Look, Prime has disintegrated!" Starscream says, and they cheer. "Okay, Starscream; the party's over!" Ironhide says, as his squad enters. "On the contrary! It has just begun. The destruction of Optimus Prime is a long-awaited victory for the Decepticons! THAT is what is left of your leader." Inferno: "It can't be!" Powerglide: "It's a Decepticon trick!" Ironhide: "Autobots, attack!!" The 'bots procede to kick Decepticon booty. The 'cons retreat through a hole melted in the wall by one of Ironhide's liquids; the 'bots pursue.

Prime rolls onward, telling the fading Elita to hang on.

The battle has turned against the Autobots, when Chromia's group finds them. Chromia: "Do you see what I see?" Moonracer: "Autobots!" Firestar: "And it looks like they could use our help." "Chromia!" Ironhide mutters, sounding flabergasted. "How quaint. The girls have come to rescue their boyfriends!" Starscream says. "Firestar! Been a long time," Inferno notes. They blast Shockwave and Astrotrain. "I hope you're still the best sharp shooter in the galaxy, Moonracer!" Powerglide says. "In the universe, Powerglide." She brings down a tower on Ramjet and Rumble. Starscream observes this and runs, only to encounter the business end of Ironhide's gun. "Stop right there, Starscream; you've taken your last step." "Hold it, Ironhide! Ladies first," Chromia says. "Sorry, ma'am, fergot my manners." "Don't shoot !" Screamer cries, his back to a ledge. "Cowardly as ever," Chromia says. Screamer takes a step backwards, falls, then transforms and flies off.

Prime arrives at Alpha Trion's base; AT himself -- a "bearded" robot in purple, maroon, and white hues, with a cape -- emerges from an elevator below the surface. "Alpha Trion. I never expected to see you again! Elita One... her life force is almost drained." "Hmmm... she used her special power. I warned her not to." "She did it to save me." "Follow me..." They enter the base. "I'll see what I can do, Prime, but it doesn't look good." Some time later, AT informs Prime that "I've done all that I can for her." "She's not--" "Now, it's your turn to help her." "What can I do?" "Disengage your power filter?..." "But what good would -- well, I'll do anything." Prime pulls a cord out of his grill section, which plugs into the same spot on Elita. "Only your design will properly interface with Elita One." "But how would you know, Alpha Trion? Only my creator could know that." "An... educated guess, Prime." Prime stares for a moment as AT walks off, then turns to Elita. "Please, Elita... re-activate."

The two battling parties are lobbing tons of firepower, but the Autobots have the upper hand as the Decepticons start just standing there cringing. "We've won!" Ironhide declares, taking aim. "Now!...." "Wrong, Autobot! Not unless you can fly," Shockwave declares, transforming and firing. The 'bots are knocked off a convenient nearby ledge, hanging by their fingertips. "That's it, Shockwave! Push 'em over the edge!" Starscream says. Shockwave fires some more, but Prime and Elita One arrive just then. "It can't be! I saw his melted carcass!" Starscream says in horror. Prime fires one shot, and Starscream orders a retreat. Astrotrain transforms and hauls the Earth-based 'cons away. "This one has your name on it, Shockwave!" Elita declares, firing a shot that sends him falling away over the ledge. Powerglide: "So much for Shockwave!" Chromia: "He'll be back soon enough." Moonracer: "And it sure is great to see you back!" "You bet," Inferno adds.

"It's really amazing how quickly Alpha Trion set up our new headquarters. And with such advanced equipment!" Moonracer comments, as the group stands in a new base. "You should see our headquarters on Earth. It's full of this stuff!" Powerglide says. "I'd love to return with you, when the war's over." Inferno: "I sure miss our rescue missions together, Firestar." "Me too, Inferno." "We're still quite a team, wouldn't you say?" "As good as we ever were!" Chromia: "Well Ironhide, I hate to admit it, but it's good to see you after all this time." The two embrace.

Outside Decepticon HQ, the 'bots part ways. "It's time for us to go, Elita. I wish we didn't have to part again." "I feel the same way, Prime. But we must continue to fight here on Cybertron." "I guess we have Alpha Trion to thank for our victory." "Yes! Such a wise old Autobot. He's almost like a -- father to me!" "More than you'll ever know, Elita." The 'bots enter the space bridge elevator, and Elita waves farewell. "Goodbye, Optimus Prime! Don't stay away too long!" We pull back to show the whole planet, and fade out.

Male:

This episode has one big bit of coolness going for it: it's almost our only look at pre-Movie life on Cybertron in the entire series. Other forays to the metal planet have only featured 'bots and 'cons who don't actually live there, bar Alpha Trion and Shockwave. The female Autobots are full-time residents, however. This is where they live, work, and play... and it ain't pretty. The very existance of the group is kept secret from the Decepticons; they live in such fear of discovery that the mere possiblity of it is enough to prompt them to relocate their base. That *can't* be easy to pull off -- where have they gotten energon up to this point? How long has Shockwave thought of them as "extinct"?

The ep also has several bits of psuedo-coolness going against it, all of them cartoonish cliches. Alpha Trion as the mysterious, far-off mystical guru who at first is seen only by holoprojector is the first. Second is Moonracer "redeeming" herself -- the character who screws up in the beginning turns out to be the one who saves the day later on, thus making everything alright. Third is Elita's funky stuff-stopping power, and Alpha Trion's random and bizarrely timed warning not to use it. Does he say this to her every time they speak? And why does she even HAVE it if she's never supposed to use it?

This episode is brought WAY down by its audio effects. The suck-fest of sound starts about one minute into the ep, when Shockwave fires at Chromia and misses, and continues right to the very end, when Elita blasts Shockwave. I HATE that laser sound effect. It just sounds so puny and pathetic. It doesn't help that Shockwave doesn't even twitch when he fires at the elevator doors at the beginning -- he just looks *silly*! Shockwave's rarely-seen gun mode did a little better sound-wise, but not much. Where's that awe-inspiring BmmmmmSHTOW!!!! from when Shockwave fired his gun mode at Skyfire in "The Ultimate Doom"?

Today's Breach of Physics: Elita's oft-touted special power that she used about five minutes after being repeatedly told not to do so. What the hell IS it, anyway? Does she freeze time? Or just matter? Whatever the case, it seems that she's immune to it and can share that immunity with whoever she chooses; the effect wears off either after a few moments or after Elita leaves the area (or runs out of juice.) And also, it seems that there's some kind of decoy or doubling or residue or ghosting effect -- after Elita and Prime depart, the 'cons see a mass in their acid pit that they believe to be Optimus's remains.

Plot: Female Autobots break into 'con HQ and steal energon; Shockwave finds their base; 'cons capture their leader and use her as bait to capture Prime; she saves him; he saves her; meanwhile, other Autobots male and female fight a big battle with Decepticons; Prime and Elita show up and drive the 'cons away. It's a pretty busy plot, actually. The Autobots' running fight with the 'cons, however, serves little purpose other than Big Fight. I guess it's Ironhide and company's way of expressing their feelings of disatisfaction with Starscream's recent actions toward Optimus (Speaking of that! I never realized how pissed off Ironhide sounds when he gives the order to attack!)

This episode had a lot of big ramifcations for the cartoon universe when it aired. Most prominently, it showed that Transformers can and do have what they consider to be gender. Like it or not, female Autobots are a fact in the cartoon. One wonders if there were female Decepticons as well; there's no reason to assume there aren't, really. It also gives the beginnings of Optimus Prime's origin story, with Alpha Trion hinting that he was Prime's creator, a fact confirmed in "War Dawn". Relatedly, it provides some of the first evidence for what seems to be a long-term memory problem in many Transformers. Prime doesn't remember who built him?! How can a Transformer forget such a pivitol event? Or did he simply not see A-3 (or whatever he was calling himself at the time) again for a long, long time after he was rebuilt into Optimus Prime, and then failed to make the connection when he finally did encounter the aged Alpha Trion millions of years later? Then there's the introduction of AT himself, a recurring figure in the series who's sort of like a guru/father figure for the Autobots in his various appearances.

AT also demonstrates that Transformers can in fact grow old over time. Oddly, though, AT is still a chipper young fellow when he shows up in "War Dawn" -- I'd say he's in the TF equivalent of his mid-30s. What happened in the intervening 9 million years to age him so "rapidly", to what what might be called the late 70s or older? By that time line, Optimus himself should be getting pretty old by the time we see him in the cartoons, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Maybe newer TFs built with better technology age more slowly? Maybe aging occurs very rapidly once it finally sets in?

Okay, so let's try and puzzle out the enigmatic female Autobots.

Elita One: quiet, formal, dramatic, solomn. A good fighter. Not too bright, though. "The Decepticons may have found us!" "I'll call Alpha Trion. He'll know what to do!" Alpha Trion: "Move." Elita: "Derrr, okay! Never woulda thought of THAT one on my own." And she's pink. Arrrg. Why did the *leader* have to be pink?? Oh, the pain...

Chromia: the only one of the bunch with a brain. And even she has to call in to Elita just to get permission to procede with her mission. She does this right in the middle of the mission, right in the middle of 'con HQ. Doesn't the phrase "radio silence" mean anything to her? It's not like Elita even has anything useful to tell the squad. Otherwise, though, Chromia has the sense to keep a level head, tell Firestar to move out without waiting for her & Moonracer, and do things like shoot at her enemies and get out of the way of other people's shots. She even uses Shockwave to free Moonracer. (Shockwave has a habit of blasting holes in things he doesn't mean to --- ref. "The Ultimate Doom" part 3. Ironhide, by contrast, has a habit of melting the walls of Decepticon HQ.)

Moonracer: She has no common sense, except when it's time for her to redeem herself. Impulsive and impetuous. Hot Rod turned femme. Figures Powerglide would hang out with a bimbo like this. I'm surprised she put the energon cubes in the cabinet without asking Chromia who would then ask Elita who would then have to consult with Alpha Trion, who probably would have to check with the Matrix to make sure it's okay. And how long did it take her to think of using them, I wonder?

Firestar: see Skyfire, post-Season One. She really didn't do much but haul the energon cubes, shoot 'cons, and hang out with Inferno.

Orange Background Bot: see Skids.

Green Background Bot: aka Whiz, thanks to fanfic writer Ivy Bohnlein. By far the most interesting, believable, and well-written of the female Autobot characters.

I've never had any idea which one was which till I wrote this review, honestly. Well, except for Elita, of course. She's hard to miss -- she's PINK, fer crying out loud. PINK!! She could've been pretty cool-looking, what with those spikes and all on her head, but no -- they make her PINK!! It's completely the wrong color for such a somber, solomn, serious, level-headed character. Light grey, maybe, or dark green or blue -- or maybe medium purple with grey bits and red highlights. But NOT pink. Oh, the horror! It practically screams out "token girl character", just as Arcee does in Season 3.

But as I was saying, the females all kinda ran together in my mind. It doesn't help that Moonracer, Firestar, and Chromia have very nearly the same voice. I wonder if Susan Blu did all three of them? They sound like they're in her range.

So what about their relationships with the various red-hued Autobots? I actually don't see any of them as indisputably or exclusively romantic. Prime and Elita have an air of people who would be dating if they lived on the same planet, but they don't so they aren't; Prime's reaction to Elita's capture, however, makes it clear that he does have strong feelings for her -- and they *do* have a romantic past in their previous incarnations as Orion Pax and Aerial. Powerglide and Moonracer seem like flirty friends, the kind who hang out together and tell each other about their dating troubles but never actually date each other. Inferno and Firestar strike me as buddies, with Inferno maybe wanting things to go further (would you really greet your One True Love with "'Been a long time!" if you were actually involved?) Ironhide and Chromia are obviously close, but Chromia's "I hate to admit it" line gives me the impression of friends who like to bicker and fight a lot. Still, their embrace is kinda sweet.

Maybe it's just the lack of air time given to the various relationships; maybe the writers were encouraged not to make things too mushy to avoid repulsing their target audience of young males. Or maybe it's the fact that these folks are all just being reunited for the first time in 4 million years. But if they were really involved, I'd expect stronger reactions when they first see one another. Ironhide is the only one besides Prime who gives anything close to such a reaction.

I do feel that the relationships kinda cheapen and weaken the females as characters. Why can't these 'bots just exist on their own? Why do the females need to be defined in terms of their boyfriends? Despite my inconclusive reactions to their "relationships", I do believe the writers intended for the Earth 'bots to be seen as the romantic counterparts for the females -- as if the females wouldn't be sufficiently well-defined on their own. It kind of highlights the fact that they weren't given all that much characterization in their one episode.

Okay, here are some nitpicks and comments in sequential order:

"Good shot"?? A "shot" is usually fired over some distance and requires aim. What Firestar did was cut a hole in the wall. There's a difference, y'know. "Way to weld," might have been a more appropirate comment. Not a real bright break-in plan there, either -- think Shockwave might notice the gigantic hole in the wall? Nahhh...

Chromia's group seems particularly worried about being discovered by Shockwave. Not by the Decepticons, but Shockwave himself. Is he that well-known and feared? Or is he simply the only Decepticon who regularly inhabits their headquarters? It's odd that Chromia would know him by name -- Shockwave apparently hasn't had contact with any of the females for so long that he thinks they're extinct. I guess they keep tabs on him, though.

It seems Elita's group hasn't raided 'con HQ till now (or they did and never got caught before.) Maybe there hasn't been enough energon there to make it worth while, till the 'cons started shipping it from Earth?

It's always cool to see Shockwave. He's like the Cousin It of the series.... he only shows up on special occasions. He's one of the few characters whose toy design I actually prefer to the cartoon model. They're pretty similar, but there are minor changes -- most notably, the rim around his face doesn't continue across the bottom on the toy, while the cartoon model has a complete hexagon around his face.

The 'bots and 'cons have their guns all mixed up in the beginning of this ep. Shockwave fires with Optimus Prime's sound effect; Chromia's gun uses the generic Decepticon laser sound effect. Later on, Ironhide borrows Megatron's fusion canon effect for liquids fired from his fingertips.

There's also an odd lack of scene change flip-symbols in the first few minutes of the episode. Hmm.

Weird. Firestar splits in half when she transforms. I mean she literally comes apart into two pieces.

How does Shockwave get a live-action view of the Sentinel flying along? Does he have a camera drone flying alongside of it? Why does he even need such a thing? Doesn't he know what the Sentinel looks like? My impression is that this ungainly robot isn't even alive (the females refer to it as "one of Shockwave's sentinels", implying there's a whole bunch of them), especially considering how easily it blew apart when Moonracer shoots it.

More importantly, hasn't anyone noticed that the Sentinel -- a bottom-heavy, legless device with wheels for feet -- looks incredibly stupid flying?

Chromia's little sensor light goes off, and she gives Moonracer the order to transform, both seeming to imply that she's detected the Sentinel following them. Yet Elita still has to tell her about it.

"I order you to obey me." Isn't there a certain amount of redunancy built into that sentence? "I command you to obey my command to obey my order to obey my commands! That's an order!"

Rumble starts pounding *before* Starscream has finished his tirade. Apparently he's heard it all before, and figures it just ain't worth the bother. :]

Astrotrain apparently has second thoughts about attacking Elita, since he starts flying backwards well before she actually fires at him -- never mind that she misses anyway, and he goes off in a totally different direction to boot.

Starscream's null ray is usually just that -- a *ray*, not a radio-wave-lookin' kind of thing. And check out the wimpy sound effect it gets -- and also note how poorly that effect meshes with the powerful-sounding effect when Elita is hit with it.

When the missiles start hitting around Elita during the flashback, she just stands there and covers her eyes. Oy.

The flashback itself, of course, rather contradicts what was shown in "More Than Meets The Eye" Part 1. There, the Autobot ship launched without incident; in fact, since the 'cons were trying to be stealthy about following the 'bots, it would make sense for them not to attack. I suppose the Elita scene could fit into MTMTE after the dome covers are lowered, but before we see Prime on the ship's bridge preparing for lift-off. But the editing of MTMTE makes it seem like these two scenes are occurring simultaneously, making the missile attack and Prime's conversation seem like an anamolous retcon.

The animators *never* seem to be able to draw those space bridge doors right. You know the ones -- the bits that slide shut after someone enters the donut on the Earth end of the bridge. They're *always* drawn as if they were sliding panels, instead of continuations of the donut.

The space bridge sequence is one of the remarkably consistent things about G1. The ring flashes; an initial white bunch of rays go up; there's some lightening; a glowing portal opens and smoke fills the sky, and the objects to be transported are lifted skyward; finally there's a big explosion as the portal closes.

Why do the Decepticons never bother to shackle or otherwise lock up Elita? I think Astrotrain and Ramjet were just taking the rare chance to cop a feel... especially considering how easily she got loose from Astrotrain.

Why doesn't Prime just blast his way out of the cube? His firepower is at least as great as that of Shockwave, who had no trouble blowing open one of them.

Shockwave's "better idea" is to chain Prime up and let him hang there for a good long while? What if the other 'bots had burst through the door shooting (as they did about two seconds later)? I don't think Shockers could reasonably be expected to account for something like Elita's bizarre power, but there *were* other reasons that his "better" idea was anything but. Prime would be toast now if it weren't for this "better idea".

"If Prime got past those guards"... Uh, Ironhide, WHAT guards? There's nobody there. Maybe Ironhide's being saracastic ("If Prime can march right into an unguarded space bridge, so can we")? Maybe he's referring to some booby trap he assumes is there? Maybe he means the guards on Cybertron that Prime actually failed to get past? Maybe the animators forgot to include the aforementioned guards in the scene?

Prime seems awfully unconcerned for someone who's about to be melted. Doesn't he at least have some pithy last words? Maybe he was counting on Elita to save him somehow.

When Elita unfreezes Prime, his colors turn back to normal, then fade back into green, then abruptly jump back to normal again. I think they ran that bit of film backwards.

Didn't the 'cons notice that Elita was missing after she froze them? Like one second Astrotrain and Ramjet are holding her, and the next she's just gone? Maybe they were too busy celebrating Prime's "destruction".

If you look close, you can actually see something dropping into the 'cons' acid pit after Prime drives off. Nice touch.

Good thing the 'cons ran out of clear energy cubes, or Ironhide & co. might have would up in Starscream's acid vat.

Ya gotta love how the three Autobots who go to Cybertron just *happen* to be paired up with three of the six females who are present. This ep woulda been a lot different if Jazz, Wheeljack, and Brawn had been the ones to go after Prime... :]

The orange and green females are off the bottom of the screen when they tranform, thus nicely saving the animators from having to design vehicle modes for them. Convenient.

The Really Big Fight At The End (TM Kendrick Kerwin Chua) is a good example of why The Movie's infamous shuttle scene upsets us old G1 fans. There's about ten point two fuckloads of ordinance flying in every direction in this scene, and a lot of it is hitting various combatants dead on. Nobody even gets a MARK on them! Not a bleedin' scratch! Given how many times this happened, by the time the Movie came out I had long since concluded that Transformer armor is VERY tough and hard to penetrate (despite the conventional military wisdom that weaponry is generally several steps ahead of armor. Or as Spock once said, "Traditionally, it has always been easier to destroy than to create.")

I guess Shockwave's not a Decepticon, since he doesn't follow Starscream's order to retreat. Starscream's group just leaves him stranded there with a dozen Autobots! Some friends *they* are.

Hey, Shockwave! Here's a terrific friggin' idea -- you might even call it a REAL "better idea". Howsabout you actually KEEP SHOOTING, instead of just floating there waiting for Chromia to put the smack down on you? The episode was doing pretty good about not having 'cons and 'bots just standing around not shooting at each other, till this moment.

The hell? The Autobots just march into Decepticon HQ like they *own* the place. Whassup with that? I guess the four of them are enough to keep Shockwave away.

A LOT of the dialogue in this ep is cornball cartoon cliches ("It's a Decepticon trick!" "Elita One! I hope she is safe!" "Wrong, Autobot! Not unless you can fly!" "It drains all my life force." "This one has your name on it, Shockwave!" "But they will not outsmart me!" "I guess we have Alpha Trion to thank for our victory." I guess we have lack of creativity to thank for these lines.) The only really outstanding line I can think of was Rumble's exhasperated bit about "not to tear up the whole planet!" And it's partially just the way he says the line that makes it good. Rumble's actually kinda cool, now that I think about it. He gets a lot of good lines.

Artwork ranges from slightly above to well above average. Overall it's not too impressive -- but, there are some GREAT character shots at times. Check out Starscream as he boasts to the captured Optimus, right before he dips the stick in the acid -- it sums up the boastful, arrogant side of his character perfectly. I also like the downward-looking shot of Rumble protesting to Starscream. Ironhide gets the best closeup I've seen of him when he orders the Autobots to attack in Autobot HQ. Ironhide shooting from his fingertips would be another great screencap, as would Inferno's close-up as he greets Firestar.

Okay, and then there's the supreme high tops on my want list: the Stock Shot of Cybertron. I want this thing blown up to a gigantic poster size and issued to fans everywhere for a nominal fee. I'd shell out some good money for a high-quality large print of this painting. It is simply THE single coolest piece of artwork shown in the entire series, hands down. I would SO put this thing up on my wall (and I'm *very* picky about what I put on my walls.)

You know the one I mean, right? It's the next-to-last shot in the episode. As we pull back, first we have Elita waving buh-bye, then a closeup of the planet's surface (featuring the tower with the one curving side), then a full view of the planet -- BAM! That's the one I want! GodDAMN is it cool! Look at it! It's incredibly detailed, and features such cool stuff as a friggin' giant hole in the planet, buildings so big that they stick out into space (wonder if Grapple designed any of those?) and a chunk of the planet near the south pole that apparently just completely blew the hell up a long time ago. The center of Cybertron *glows*, by the way. What the hell? To create that much light implies a BIG power source, like a molten core or something. As Spike once said, I thought the planet was all out of energy! Maybe that power source is what keeps the badly-mangled planet from just collapsing under its own gravity.

Oh man! It's SO cool! Lookatit lookatit lookatit!!!

There's then a long shot of Cybertron that isn't the same image, but is a slightly different angle that lets us see more directly into the planet's shiney happy interior; near as I can tell that image is exclusive to this episode. The Stock Shot, however, shows up in numerous episodes (MTMTE and The Ultimate Doom, just to name a couple.)

Overall: Enough cheesey dialogue, bad sound effects, and silly cartoonish redundancies, cliches and non-sequitirs to keep it out of the list of episodes I consider to be strong. More importantly, it has three character relationships thrown in and glossed over that maybe we woulda been better off without. But it's always cool to see Cybertron, and the artwork ain't bad at all. Big consequences for the 'toon universe, though I'm not terribly impressed by any of those consequences, personally.

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